Catalogue description Records of the Slave Trade and African Departments

Details of Division within FO
Reference: Division within FO
Title: Records of the Slave Trade and African Departments

Contains records of the Slave Trade and African Departments relating to African affairs including the suppression of the slave trade. Correspondence of Slave Trade and African Departments up to 1892 is in FO 84. Correspondence of the African Department from 1906 to 1913 is in FO 367

Date: 1816-1913
Related material:

The 'Africa' series of correspondence with diplomatic and consular representatives in countries outside Africa from 1893 to 1900, and correspondence relating to particular African countries appears in the appropriate series within the general correspondence.

For East Africa correspondence, 1893-1905 see FO 107

Separated material:

Records of African Departments 1893-1905 are in FO 2

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 2 series
Administrative / biographical background:

The Slave Trade Department was originally concerned with executing the various treaties for the suppression of the slave trade which arose out of the Congress of Vienna, 1814-1815. Its work was initially expected to be temporary and it was not placed on the establishment of the Foreign Office until 1841. However as early as 1824 a special annual allowance was paid to the clerk who superintended the slave trade business, together with a lump sum in recognition of his having conducted that business over the previous five years.

The department gradually assumed the general direction of most other business relating to Africa. Between 1872 and 1880 it combined with the Consular Department as the Consular and Slave Trade Department; in 1880 it became the Slave Trade and Sanitary Department; between 1882 and 1893 it combined once more with the Consular Department as the Consular and African (East and West) Department.

In 1893 it became separate once more as the African (East and West) Department. In June 1900 it was divided into the African Department, responsible for South-East, West and South-West Africa, and the African Protectorates Department, under a superintendent of protectorates, responsible for the administration of East Africa, Uganda, British Central Africa and Somaliland.

In April 1905 the African Protectorates Department was abolished when the Colonial Office assumed responsibility for all African protectorates except Zanzibar, which remained a Foreign Office responsibility until January 1914. The African Department was abolished at the end of 1913, its remaining functions being transferred to the American and later Egyptian (Political) Departments.

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